Saturday, March 19, 2016
Since the immergence of TWILIGHT back in November 2008, the Young Adult (YA) novel adaptation has been the go-to genre for studios who can’t get comic book rights. While none of them have been great, a few including THE HUNGER GAMES and BEAUTIFUL CREATURES have been at least good. The current most successful franchise is the DIVERGENT series about a dystrophic society in the ruins of Chicago. I found little enjoyment in the first two installments so my expectations for the third one, ALLEGIANT, didn’t exist. And yet, it still failed to meet them.
After the defeat of Janine & a disagreement over the treatment of her supporters by the new leadership, Tris (Woodley) & Four (James) decide to escape Chicago & explore the other side. Soon after, they are rescued by members of the army protecting the Bureau of General Welfare, headed by David (Daniels). Tris soon learns from David about the purpose of the Bureau, its relation to Chicago and the lineage & destiny of Tris.
Let’s say your biggest ally & lover comes up to you and warns you about the possible sinister happenings of the organization that you know little about. Do you trust him or the leader of said organization, who you met a few days ago? Here’s another one: Your biological son comes to you to warn you about the fallout that will occur from an attack on a rival faction. Do you trust him or this slimy, arrogant little punk you’ve known for about an hour? ALLEGIANT features characters who have been though recent rough physical & mental battles in the previous two movies where they have to have absolute trust in the person in front, behind or next to them in order to keep their fight going. But all allegiances, whether through birth or genuine chemistry, are pretty much thrown out the window in two significant, inconceivably stupid decisions by major characters. I do find it interesting that both decisions were made by women in a movie based on a book by a woman. It’s almost as if this movie is trying to be some sort of weird, anti-feminism thing perpetrated by director Robert Schwentke (INSURGENT, RED, R.I.P.D.) & writer Noah Oppenheim (THE MAZE RUNNER). There’s probably nothing to that since ALLEGIANT is all talk & no substance.
As bad as the main story is, what makes ALLEGIANT unbearable is the presence of Miles Teller’s Peter Hayes. Hayes’ entire role in this series of movies is to add sarcastic comments in the most assholishly way possible and undermine our heroes in every step of the way. Teller is at his absolute worst during the final two minutes as Tris gives her closing, voiceover monologue, which is juxtaposed with scenes of Peter whining outside the fence that guards the Bureau’s headquarters, distracting us from the final message the movie wants to present to its audience. How was he able to hang with that group for so long considering how much damage he’s caused in three movies and HOW THE F*CK WAS HE NOT IMPRISIONED OR EXECUTED AT THE END OF THIS MOVIE?!?!
Shailene Woodley can act and I understand she needs these bigger movies to keep her visible in the eyes of the general movie-going public but these DIVERGENT movies don’t give her any challenges. She is the only one of the young actors who isn’t a nuisance since Theo James is only slightly more charismatic than Taylor Lautner, Zoe Kravitz is given nothing to do until the final action sequence and Miles Teller…I’ve already had my rant about him. I’ve seen Jeff Daniels give better performances in Pure Michigan commercials. Daniels, just like everyone else, appears to just go blandly through the motions until the third act where some action actually occurs.
Despite the fact that it looks professionally done, ALLEGIANT is a miserable experience in any way you look at it with a boring first hour, a poor second hour hampered by two inconceivably bad decisions and the most annoying adult male character I’ve ever seen in a movie. The appeal of this entire series is baffling to me but never in a million years would I think I’d see another YA adaptation this inept.